The influenza (Flu) Vaccine was launched by the Honorable Health Minister, Dechen Wangmo on 6th November 2019. This vaccine is targeted towards high-risk groups namely:pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions, children in the age range of 6 months to 23 months, elderly population and health worker.
BHTF supports the vaccination for children, elderly and people with chronic medical conditions. An amount of Nu. 26.169 million was provided by BHTF for the introduction of this vaccine and with the introduction of this vaccine, influenza-associated hospitalization and death is expected to reduce in the country especially pneumonia cases hospitalization and death in children less than 24 months. In Bhutan, respiratory illness is one of the top ten diseases affecting all age groups.
As per the influenza–associated respiratory hospitalization burden study conducted by the Royal Centre for Disease Control (RCDC) in 2017, the estimated influenza-associated respiratory hospitalizations among all ages is 376 per 100,000 in 2015 and 896 per 100,000 in 2016 respectively. The estimate significantly varies from season to season due to continuous changes of influenza viruses. The most affected age groups were children less than 5 years and elderly people above 65 years. The National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) has recommended that influenza vaccination be given during the months of November and December every year.